Grow Colorful Viola Flowers as Cool-Season Annuals

Updated: Mar. 15, 2023

Be sure to include a colorful viola flower or two in your cool season garden plans. The variety of violas available will astound you!

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

Violas Love Cool Weather

ViolaCourtesy Nicole Jarvi
Viola flowers attract early and late season pollinators

As the garden season winds down up north, in Central Florida, it’s the most wonderful time of year! I was thrilled to visit my local garden center last week and see that the first violas and pansies had arrived. I quickly filled my cart and headed home to fill my flower garden with these colorful cool-season annuals. Learn why you should add one (or more!) viola flower varieties to your garden.

Check out more early blooming spring flowers for your garden.

Viola Flower Care

viola flowerJill Staake

Violas, also known as Johnny-Jump-Ups, are a member of the very large violet family, one of many in the genus Viola. The small blooms frequently sold as viola flower plants may be Viola tricolor or Viola cornuta or a hybrid of the two. They are native to Europe, where they’re a common wildflower.

Violas come in a variety of colors, ranging from purple to orange to yellow to white, and many bi-color combinations of these. They can’t tolerate the high heat of summer, so they are usually grown in spring and early summer in northern climates, and fall through spring down south. Many people think the blooms look like smiling faces, which leads to their appeal.

When planted in fall, these cold-hardy flowers often overwinter to bloom the following year.

Viola flowerJill Staake

Plant violas in part shade, which will help them last a little longer when temperatures rise. They need regular watering, and can be deadheaded to increase flowering. In many areas, violas self-seed easily. This can make them a bit of a pest if they’re growing where you don’t want them. In that case, consider growing them in pots where you can have more control over them.

Tiger Eye viola, Fall Container PlantsW. Atlee Burpee Company
Tiger Eye viola

Violas are easy to grow from seed, and are often one of the first flowers ready to set out in the spring up north. Seed catalogs offer a variety of colors, with new ones such as Tiger Eye Violas appearing on the market all the time. Most gardeners wouldn’t consider a cool season flower garden complete without these easy-to-grow cheerful blooms.

Check out the top 10 annuals that attract hummingbirds.

Viola Flowers Are Edible

viola violet Jill Staake

An extra bonus? These blooms are edible and make a lovely garnish for salads or baked goods. Be sure no pesticides or other harmful chemicals have been used on the flowers, though.

Next, learn the difference between annuals vs. perennials.